[Zumbrota-Mazeppa] budget cuts expected to avoid deficit spending

/ 29 May 2012 / jennifer

Pete Grimsrud, Zumbrota News-Record, May 29, 2012 –

MAZEPPA – At the May 12 Zumbrota-Mazeppa School Board meeting in Mazeppa, Superintendent Tony Simons recommended that the board make reductions if they want to avoid deficit spending next year. Simons offered a moving target fund balance projection for next year that showed a revenue gap of $348,974-$436,974 based on an anticipated enrollment increase of 17 for next year.

Simons expects staff to differentiate between “needs and wants” to justify expenditures and provide a better plan for accurate budgeting. He said that he is not trying to lower education expectations but to avoid deeper cuts later as a result of deficit spending now.

Teachers On Call

Simons asked the board to consider a substitute staffing company called Teachers On Call (TOC) to replace or supplement ZM’s current sub-calling system. He expects that TOC would save the district money considering that ZM spent $100,000 on subs this year. He said FICA, unemployment, and work comp would come off the books (a 17% sub expense).

To use TOC, teachers and paras/educational assistants would enter an absence and a qualified substitute would be assigned to their classroom. TOC would take administrative responsibility of recruiting, qualifying, training, scheduling, managing, retaining, and payrolling substitutes.

Board member Jim Wendt questioned if it would be too easy for teachers to call for a sub.

Simons said that ZM staff are currently using their days and quality subs are a concern. He said he believes that TOC provides the best subs with expertise.

Board member Stephen Rosenthal asked if subs outside of TOC may still be used.

Principal Erick Enger said that teachers can and do pick their subs. Enger endorsed TOC, saying that it eliminates additional work while providing accountability for the subs and teachers (who are also rated by the sub based on their lesson plans).

Food services

Based on a negative food service fund balance at the end of this month and federal guidelines, students can expect a 10-15% increase in food prices next year.

Rosenthal asked about offering premium lunches that would provide more food and more profit.

Board member Marie Josselyn added that area schools are very happy with it, but children would need to sign up for a premium lunch so the lunch menu is not a guessing game.

Simons expects incorporating the food service accounting system with the Infinite Campus school website at an expense of $6,000-$8,000.

T1 phone line

The school board decided to purchase a single T1 phone line through Zumbrota Telephone Company to serve both Zumbrota and Mazeppa locations. As a result, all school phone numbers will begin with 732. Savings of $400-$500 per month result by not incorporating a split T1 line through Sleepy Eye Phone Company in Mazeppa.

Josselyn, a Mazeppa resident, said that it was too much more to pay to use 843 for the Mazeppa location and was comfortable using 732.

Scheduling and credit requirements

The curriculum committee will meet to address curriculum and graduation credit standards. The state narrowed what fulfills requirements after ZM increased total credit requirements to graduate. This, combined with shared staff traveling between the middle and high school, has created scheduling conflicts for Enger. Josselyn said that they spent a lot of time on changes and don’t want to go back.

Liffrig head basketball coach

New hires include Fred Liffrig as head basketball coach and Willie Rauen as junior varsity basketball coach. Mary Post and Pamela Stehr were approved for long-term substitute contracts. Ashley Klimisch was hired as fall cheerleading advisor.